Good Friday is the one day when we can give in to despair. It’s allowed. It’s okay to not be hopeful. It’s the one day in the Christian calendar when we can face the darkness of the human heart and the failure of god and god’s people.
So few people attend a Good Friday service anymore. Wouldn’t we rather just skip over the death of hope and remain cheerful? Wouldn’t we rather just skip over the part of the story where god’s prophet fails to warm the cold complacent hearts of a people compromised by the Roman coin? Wouldn’t we rather just pretend that everything’s going to be okay? If we just stay asleep – won’t the dream we’re in continue?
The privileged North American is like a polar bear on a melting ice flow. The ice that’s sustained a consumer-driven lifestyle is quickly eroding. The growing gap between haves and have-nots is eating it away. The manufacturing base, and unionized job security, has succumbed to the globalization of our economy. The industries that once drew generations of farmers off the land and into Peterborough for the promise of a secure wage and a pension, are mostly gone.
That prime farmland now houses sprawling subdivisions. Creeks and waterways are either paved over or polluted by the chemicals of intensive corporate farm practices. Quarries threaten ancient aquifers.
The prophets of sustainability march into Jerusalem and call the priests of the temple to account. But the priests of Queen’s Park have long ago hitched their wagons to the horses of the empire. Bay Street has no regard for any local insurrections and shakes off their occupying presence like a clydesdale shakes off flies.
Protestors and prophets don’t face the barrel of rifles in Ontario. But police in riot gear have become a tv news special. The courts are tied up with charges of the inevitable abuses of such unleashed power.
And we’re still dealing with the last century’s abuses. The indigenous cultures that stewarded this land for millennia are the same people that Jesus spoke for just two thousand years ago. (His indigenous voice was quashed effectively by an empire that sold peace in exchange for a globalized economic and military control.) The good farm folk of Canada trusted their government and church institutions to bring these disenfranchised peoples into the promised prosperity they all worked their butts off to claim.
In the Residential School Truth and Reconciliation process we discover early on that the expected 12,000 stories of abuse has more than doubled in the first months of unraveling the story of the costs of “peace and prosperity”.
Prophets of truth are the species of this small planet going extinct day by day, hour by hour. Who stops to mourn their loss? Who marks the unraveling of a cycle – the breaking of the circle of life that sustains?
On Good Friday the stilled voices of this year’s Pilipino martyrs seep into the earth like blood at the foot of the cross. Who is watching?
Who wouldn’t rather take another drink, take another pill, take another holiday from the reality of the melting ice flow? Why not just skip to the Easter message that everything’s going to be okay? God’s in control and everything happens for a reason and Jesus, or James Bond, or Governor Arnold will show up at the last minute and save the world. Maybe Jack Layton will return from the grave to warm cold Canadian hearts to the plight of the voiceless?
“Follow me” says Jesus.
To enter into the pain on the path Jesus walks, the path prophets walk today, takes a courage this generation of privileged Canadians has seldom seen.
Bravery is defined in this culture by the willingness to pick up a gun. Canadian taxpayers are willing to reward such bravery with a paycheque and training. Who will train and fund and inspire the army of Canadian young people needed to hear the truth today and face the evil of staying asleep amidst the cries of the earth?
Good Friday we’ll sing “Were you there when they crucificed my Lord?”.
I ask “Are you there today?”